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KUCHING, Sept 22: New strategic master plans have been set in place to turn Kapit and Bakun into urban centres to benefit from Indonesia’s relocation of its capital to Kalimantan.
According to Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) chief executive officer (CEO) Datu Ismawi Ismuni, Kapit will be the closest urban centre in Sarawak to Indonesia’s new capital which may be sited in East Kalimantan.
“In years to come, more people would be attracted to living and working in Kapit as the property sector and industries will grow. Things will change because of the new road connectivity and the investments that we can bring in,” he said in a media release from Curtin University Malaysia today.
Ismawi highlighted this during a two-day online symposium on infrastructure development jointly hosted by The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) Miri Branch and Curtin Highway Infrastructure Research and Innovation Hub (CHIRI) recently.
Themed ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Infrastructure Development in Borneo’, the two day symposium was attended by over 200 participants from the public and corporate sectors and academia.
“Kapit now is no longer the Kapit we knew before as it is now accessible by road from Sibu. The idea is that with a masterplan, we can promote the region to the investors in a very systematic manner,” he explained in a report published by Recoda.
As for the masterplan to develop Bakun, which is also close in proximity to the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, Ismawi highlighted that the hydropower dams could supply electricity to the new Indonesia capital, apart from other benefits.
“We are also going to develop a lakeside township and also an island township, and once we have that done in a very systematic manner, we will be able to attract potential investors to go to Bakun.
“If you look at other parts of the world, anything to do with lakes has great potential. Tourists like to go to lakes. There are many many examples, such as Lake Como (in Italy). That is the vision for that area,” he said.
Associate Professor of Transportation Engineering at Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia Ir Dr Achmad Wicaksono, who was also one of the keynote speakers in the symposium, pointed out that better connectivity between Kalimantan and the East Malaysian states will augur well for the economic growth of Borneo on the whole.
He also shared the Indonesian perspective, presenting an overview of recent transportation infrastructure policy in Kalimantan, as well as the development plans for border areas between Indonesia and East Malaysia and the new Indonesian capital.
Meanwhile, on Aug 26, 2019, Indonesia President Joko Widodo announced that the country’s capital will move from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to a site in a sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo island.
He said that the new capital city, which has not yet been named, will be in the middle of the vast archipelago nation and already has relatively complete infrastructure because it is near the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.
Widodo emphasised that the decision came after intense studies considering the burden has become too heavy on Jakarta on Java island as the center of government, finance, business, trade and services as well as the location of the country’s largest airport and seaport.
He added that a decision was made not to move the capital elsewhere on Java because the country’s wealth and people are highly concentrated there and should be spread out.
Apart from Ismawi and Wicaksono, Works Minister Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof and Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin also gave insights into the status of various projects such as the Pan Borneo Highway, Sarawak-Sabah Link Road, Sarawak Coastal Road and Second Trunk Road and Kuching Urban Transportation System projects. — DayakDaily